Citi self invest review 2.5-star brokerage rating

Citi Brokerage Account Review: Is Citi Self Invest Good in 2024?


Synopsis of Citi Self Invest


Although Citigroup is mostly known for its credit cards and deposit accounts through Citibank, the financial conglomerate also has brokerage accounts through its low-cost subsidiary Citi Self Invest. Before opening your next investment account, be sure to check out our review of this often-overlooked brokerage firm.


Citi Self Invest Services


Citi Self Invest Rating

Traders at Citi Self Invest can buy and sell mutual funds, stocks, closed-end funds, and exchange-traded funds. There are no other investment products available, and all accounts are self-directed.

Robo accounts are available through Citi Self Invest’s sister company Citi Wealth Builder. This is an automated-investing service that trades a small selection of ETFs. A hybrid program is available (at an additional cost) that brings on board a team of human financial advisors who can create a financial plan.

In addition to individual taxable accounts, Citi Self Invest and Wealth Builder now offer Individual Retirement Accounts. To open (but not maintain) any type of investing account, Citi requires the applicant to have an active deposit account (checking, savings, or money market).


is citi self invest good


Although Citi has a decent budget investing service, it’s definitely missing some important features. For example, Charles Schwab has many more tax structures, including custodial accounts and self-employed 401k plans. And Schwab offers trading in futures, forex, options, foreign stocks, and bonds, all of which are missing in action at Citi Self Invest.


Security Analysis


Citi Self Invest Security Rating

To analyze potential investments, Citi offers a few basic research tools on its website and mobile app. On either platform, the fund screener is the same. It can search by fund type (mutual or exchange-traded) and asset class. Examples of the latter include:

  • Alternatives
  • Bonds
  • Commodity
  • Equity
  • Mixed Assets
  • Money Market

Unfortunately, there are no other search variables. A scan can be sorted by a variety of issues, including 5-year return and last price. There is no stock screener, so this is the end of the line here.


citibank self invest review


Asset profiles on the Citi website and mobile app have brief information on them. There are news articles from Reuters and company data, such as market cap and shares outstanding. Funds have ratings from Lipper.


Banking Products


Citi Self Invest Banking Rating

Although Citi Self Invest is owned by one of the largest banking units in the world, a brokerage account doesn’t come with any noteworthy cash-management tools. A checkbook or debit card isn’t available, for example.

It is possible to link a Citibank account to a Citi Self Invest or Citi Wealth Builder account, however. In fact, this is done automatically on both the website and mobile app. Credit cards with Citi are linked, too. It’s easy to transfer funds between accounts.


Computer Trading


Citi Self Invest Trading Rating

Citi Self Invest customers get a basic website to manage accounts, research securities, and place trades. Although the software is user-friendly, it fails to deliver a sophisticated experience. For example, the trade ticket only has 3 trade types (market, limit, and stop). Shorting is not possible, which further curtails any possibility of a pro-level experience.


Citi Self Invest Review


Charting on the website is also on a very basic level. For example, a graph only has one plot style (line), and there are no tools of any kind. There are no studies or drawing gizmos, for example.

Another feature missing on the Citi website is a web-browser platform. So the website proper is the final act for the browser-based experience. To make matters even worse, Citi has no desktop program at all, so its simple website is the end of the line.

Other broker-dealers do a much better job in the software category. Schwab, for instance, has two very advanced desktop programs with all sorts of bells and whistles for advanced trading. Its website is also quite good; it has a web-browser program with a pro-level order ticket and very good charting with lots of gadgets and tools.


Mobile Trading


Citi Self Invest App Rating

Moving onto the mobile app, we see much the same situation. Trading tools are very simple with basic charts and the same bare-bones order ticket. Profiles once again have very limited amounts of information on them. The platform is easy to use, though.


Citi Self Invest App Review


The watchlist syncs with the website, meaning that it has the same securities as the watchlist on the website. Multiple lists can be created, and it’s easy to shuffle among them.

Because the app is the same one that Citibank customers use, there are lots of cash-management tools on it. For example, we found resources for loans, credit cards, FICO scores, and bank products.


Citi Self Invest Fees


Citi Self Invest Pricing Rating

Although Citi has failed so far to deliver very much, it certainly doesn’t charge much for its investing services. Neither brokerage nor robo accounts have any commissions. Mutual funds on the Citi Self Invest platform have no transaction fees. Placing any trade over the phone could incur a surcharge.

Managed accounts do have an annual fee of 0.25% (0.60% for the hybrid program). Self-directed accounts have no ongoing fees of any kind, which makes them a good value.


Margin Trading


Citi Self Invest Margin Rating

Neither Citi Self Invest nor Citi Wealth Builder offers any type of margin trading. Everything is done on a cash basis. This we consider a failure, one that won’t be found at Schwab. Brokerage customers can trade with leverage, short securities, and trade complex option strategies.


Supplementary Services


Citi Self Invest Service Rating

Fractional-share Trading: Citi Self Invest customers can buy securities using whole dollars instead of whole shares. Citi restricts this service to limit and market orders.

IPO Access: Citi Self Invest does not offer access to upcoming Initial Public Offerings.

Dividend Reinvestment Plan: Citi Self Invest does have a DRIP service, and it is free of charge.

Fully-Paid Stock Lending: Traders at Citi cannot earn additional income by loaning out their shares.

IRA Service: Citi Self Invest and Wealth Builder now offer Roth and Traditional accounts.

Extended Hours: Only the regular market session can be used at Citi.

Automatic Mutual Fund Purchases: It’s possible to set up systematic mutual-fund purchases inside a Citi Self Invest account.


Our Recommendations


Mutual Fund Trading: Citi Self Invest customers can trade 814 mutual funds. Charles Schwab customers can trade 5,926 funds. Plus, Schwab’s website has many more fund tools, including a much better screener and a comparison tool.

Retirement Planning and Long-Term Investing: A Citi Wealth Builder Plus account (the hybrid automated-human account) opened as an IRA would do a decent job of planning for the future.

Active Equity Trading: Because of Citi’s rather simple software, we can’t defend it for frequent stock trading (not to mention the lack of research materials and no shorting capability). Schwab does a great job, though.

Small Accounts: Citi does not require a deposit to open a brokerage account, although an automated account requires $5,000 ($25,000 for a hybrid account). A Self Invest account would work really well for small accounts due to the availability of fractional-share trading.

Beginners: An automated account with Citi Wealth Builder would be a good way to start investing. A Plus account with a financial planner would be even better.


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Citi Brokerage Verdict


Although Citi Self Invest doesn’t charge much for its investing and trading program, it doesn’t deliver much, either.


Updated on 12/13/2023.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.